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Elk Grove’s players have felt confident in their abilities since the beginning of the season.
Sometimes it just takes a marquee win to get everyone else’s attention.
The Grenadiers got that victory Saturday afternoon, upsetting No. 12 Zion-Benton 65-57 in pool play at the Jacobs Holiday Classic.
“We know who we are coming into this tournament but other people are going to see how we can play,” said Elk Grove guard Kishan Patel who led all scorers with a career-high 27 points. “I think we’ll open a lot of eyes and we can build off this.”
Patel’s dominating performance made the difference, especially in the second half when he scored 17 points.
“I was shooting really bad at the beginning of the season but I came in early every morning and worked at it,” said the 5-foot-10 guard. “And it was great today because all the guys helped me get good looks.”
Elk Grove (7-4) jumped out to a 15-10 lead by the end of the first quarter as Zion-Benton (9-3) struggled to find its offense. Milik Yarbrough was the only one to get going for the Zee-Bees with eight points in the first.
Yarbrough (22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) helped put Zion-Benton ahead with a pair of three pointers early in the second quarter.
But the Grenadiers closed the first half with a 14-3 spurt for a 33-23 halftime lead. The run was highlighted by a pair of treys from Patel.
Patel stayed hot in the third quarter knocking down several big shots to give Elk Grove a 51-39 advantage after three quarters.
A three-pointer by Patel with 6:57 to play in the game pushed the Grenadiers lead to 56-39 and threatened to turn the game into a blowout.
The Zee-Bees, however, managed to hang around. With Yarbrough, who wasn’t in foul trouble, on the bench for much of the quarter, Zion-Benton was able to rally within 63-57 after a field goal by Trenton Curry (10 points) with 35 seconds left. But it was too little, too late as Elk Grove picked up its most impressive win of the season.
“We expect to win,” said Elk Grove’s Austin Amann, who finished with 17 points. “[Zion-Benton is] a great team but its going to be a battle every time we come on the court. We know we’re a good team.”
For Zion-Benton, it was another frustrating loss, coming 16 hours after a defeat at the hands of Mundelein.
“We just didn’t have it together,” Yarbrough said. “Nobody wanted to play together and we just didn’t play we’ll.
“We’re going to bounce back. We’ll come out on Wednesday, play hard and do what we have to, to get the win.”